Objectification as Self-affirmation in the Context of a Death-relevant Health Threat

Document Type


Publication Date



Terror management, Self-objectification, Self-affirmation, Health

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



Messages highlighting the risk of unhealthy behaviors threaten the self and can prompt a defensive response. From the perspective of self-affirmation theory, affirming an important value in a domain unrelated to the threat can reduce this defensiveness. Integrating terror management and objectification theory, this study examined objectification as a type of self- affirmation for women who highly value their appearance (i.e., high self-objectifiers) in the context of reactions towards a health message priming the association between breast cancer and death, and promoting the role of breast self-exams as an effective intervention. Self- objectification was found to moderate breast self-exam intentions and reactions to a BSE brochure when women were exposed to an objectifying image in the context of the death- relevant health threat. These findings show that for some women, objectification may provide the psychological fortitude necessary to actively confront threats to the self, and health, and may help to explain the pervasiveness of the phenomena.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Self and Identity, v. 12, no. 6, p. 610-620.